money diaries

A Week In Potts Point, Sydney, As A Strategy Advisor On $110,000

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we tackle the ever-present taboo that is money. We ask real people how they spend their hard-earned money during seven days — and we track every last dollar.
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Today a strategy advisor impulse purchases a kneeling chair for her home office, attends a few Pilates sessions using ClassPass and spends a Saturday with her "non-boyfriend".
Occupation: Strategy Advisor
Industry: Private Industry
Age: 26
Location: Potts Point, Sydney
Salary: $110,000
Net Worth: $183,000 ($122,000 equity, $22,000 savings, $1,000 in shares, and $38,000 in super) 
Debt: $458,000 left on my mortgage 
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $3,221 
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses 

Mortgage: $2,688 for my mortgage repayments on my one-bedroom apartment. I bought my apartment with the help of a down payment from my parents. Without their help, I would not have been able to buy solo. I live alone and cover the repayments, bills, strata, etc. alone.   
Therapy: $360. I do fortnightly therapy sessions. It’s a pricey recurring expense, but I get a lot of value out of it, and I find the accumulation of continuing to go makes a big difference, rather than necessarily just what you get out of an individual session.
Internet: $54
Electricity & Gas: $80
Class Pass: $50
Health Insurance: $49
Streaming Services: $21
Voluntary Repayments: $100. I put a little extra into my mortgage each month. It’s not much, but anything to see that interest percentage go down.
Savings Contributions: $1,000

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?

I did a Bachelor of International Relations through HECS. 

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?

We grew up without much money, and money was a constant topic of fights between my parents. I was hyper-aware of how stressful our finances were from a young age, which probably influenced my strong saving habits. As I’ve always been pretty good with savings, I don’t think my parents felt the need to give me much financial instruction. Our family finances were very different as I became a young adult (marrying rich really works) and I still feel like I don’t fully understand or appreciate the position my parents are in now. 

What was your first job and why did you get it?

I worked as a shop assistant in a local pharmacy — cleaning, stacking shelves, manning the till. I worked there from about 14 to 17 years old, and I got the job because it was the expectation in my family that you would work as soon as you could. As soon as I was old enough, my mum helped me write a resume (I cannot even imagine what I put on there at 14) and I handed it out to local businesses. The job was dull but having my own money was awesome. Also, I used the uniform to buy cigarettes underage. 

Did you worry about money growing up?

I was lucky to never worry about meals or housing, but I think when you grow up without money you learn not to ask for much. My mum is great with money though, and even though I know things were super tight when my parents first got divorced, they ultimately improved even though we were all on just her income, because she had total control of the finances.  

Do you worry about money now?

I worry about money more than I should, I think. The cost of living, a mortgage, and single-person living expenses after being in a long-term relationship for many years have meant I’ve felt a real reduction in my purchasing power. I’m still trying to balance my financial goals with liking really nice things.  

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?

I lived with my parents all through high school and university and was 22 when I got my first full-time job and moved out of home. However, over the years I did spend time living with my partner’s mum, and then moved back with my parents after separating from my long-term partner (we lived together — messy!!!). 
I have a massive safety net. I received a lot of help buying my apartment, but it's more the indirect things I've benefited from. Living with my parents throughout uni gave me more financial freedom so I only needed to have a part-time job. Most of my income could go towards savings and travel, and I could comfortably take opportunities like going on exchange. 

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

My parents very generously gave me around $80,000 for my down payment to help me reach the 20% threshold. For passive income, I receive small dividends from my stock portfolio, around $10 a quarter. 

Day 1

8am – I wake up, go on my phone for a bit, and then have my morning catch-up meeting with my team. It’s Friday, so it mostly consists of chat about weekend plans. I only physically exit my bed minutes before I have to start work, which means I maximise sleep, but consistently get told I look tired in morning meetings. A trade-off I am willing to make.
10am – I walk down to a close café and get an almond iced matcha. ($6) It’s a well-known place so it’s packed, even on a weekday. It’s excellent though, and a pretty good price in my opinion! It’s also one of the last places in the city I know of that has a $3.50 base coffee. $6
12:30pm – Lunch is leftover spring pasta with broad beans, spring onions, lemon, tuna, and orecchiette. I eat it cold because I don’t have a microwave and can’t be bothered to heat it up on the stove. Not having a microwave isn’t a stance on anything, it’s just my last one got infested by cockroaches so I think I’m done with them forever.
5pm – I log off work and head out to yoga. I just miss my first train and the second is delayed, so I am too late to make it to my class. The staff are super nice to me and let me reschedule for tomorrow, even though I booked through ClassPass and it was my fault for being late! I get the train home ($5.60), and pick up some Guzman for dinner on the walk back ($16.40). $22
7pm – I semi-impulse buy a kneeling chair ($238.60) online that I’ve been looking at for a while. My tiny desk stool isn’t cutting it anymore. $238.60
8pm – I wash my hair, text a few friends, and watch some TV before turning in for the night.
Daily Total: $266.60

Day 2

9am – I wake up and noodle around on my phone for a while. I get dressed in workout gear, have a caramelised fig yogurt, and get the train to class.
11am – Back at yoga baby! I make sure to get here early this time. It’s a fancy place I haven’t been to before, and it’s a bit woo-woo, but it’s a good class and they have delicious free tea after.
1pm – I get the train back to mine ($5.60) and make some lunch. Beetroot and tofu buns with some seasoned steamed broccoli and cauliflower, some radish kimchi, and chilli oil over the buns. It was a damn good lunch if I'm being honest. I’m out of chocolate so I mix some peanut butter with some jam as a sad post-lunch sweet treat.
2pm – I spend a few hours lazing about on my phone, doing some jigsaw puzzles, and calling a friend.
5:30pm – I clean up and get changed to go to dinner with a friend. It’s a beautiful night so I walk into the city and we catch up over some Vietnamese food. I pay for dinner which is two meals and two beers ($51.77), and my friend pays for our bingsu after. $51.77
9pm – I walk home, have a shower, and head to bed.
Daily Total: $57.37  

Day 3

8am – I’m spending the day with my not-boyfriend today (please see above reference to the suspension of my long-term relationship). I’m 26, my love life is messy! He’s handsome! What else would you expect?
9:30am – He swings by my place and we chat for a bit before walking 20 minutes to a nearby café we both love. It’s still lovely despite it being popularised on TikTok recently by the brunch girlies (sometimes gatekeeping is good). I order avocado and egg on toast, a sweet pancake, and an almond latte. ($42.63) Very delicious. $42.63
11:30am – We get a quick Uber down to the IMAX theatre to see Killers of the Flower Moon — he pays for the Uber and the tickets. The movie is really good but it does feel like a long three and a half hours.
4pm – We grab a Paloma and margarita at a nearby bar — he pays.
5pm – The day is so clear and bright and we are at Barangaroo staring at the water, so we decide to get on the ferry somewhere and figure out dinner. On the ferry we settle on Indian in North Sydney, so we get off after only two stops ($5.60). Dinner is palak kale chaat and lamb biryani and it is so good. After much resistance from him, I cover us both ($52.80). $58.40
6:30pm – We leave to head back to our respective homes. I get on the train ($8.90) and he sends me really cool pictures of my street from the City of Sydney archives as I travel. $8.90
7pm – I arrive home and call my mum. I talk to her for a while, then have a shower and wind down for the evening. I’m pretty exhausted so I just spend some time on my phone and then head to bed.
Daily Total: $109.93

Day 4

8:30am – My weekend went so fast! It does not at all seem fair that it’s Monday again. I log on for my 9am meeting and get to work.
12:00pm – Lunch is packet ramen and a Diet Coke. I fully commit to not leaving the house today and stay in my big soft shirt and big soft pants all day. I like my home clothes to be so loose it feels like nothing is coming into contact with my body. Like I’m in zero gravity within my shirt. It’s a good feeling.
3pm – My IKEA delivery comes! I am now the owner of a clothing rail and a laundry hamper I didn’t realise was so big IRL.
5pm – I finish work for the day, shower, and put on some fresh home clothes for the evening.
6pm – Dinner is a repeat from a weekend lunch, seasoned steamed cauliflower and broccoli, radish kimchi, beetroot and black bean buns with chilli oil. Still hits.
6:30pm – I listen to some of The Dance of Anger, a book my therapist recommended. I much prefer reading books than listening to an audiobook, but I thought I might as well use the Audible free trial. It also means that I can work on my jigsaw puzzle at the same time, so it feels a bit less intense and more fun.
8pm – I watch some TV and then head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day 5

7:00 – It’s an in-office day today. I like a hybrid mix, and sometimes it’s nice to have a reason to leave the house. My commute is about an hour, and it goes by pretty quickly.
9:00am – I get a coffee on my walk from the station to the office ($5.60, ridiculous!), put my stuff down, crack a lemon yogurt, and start the day. $5.60
1:00pm – Lunch is sushi! Four-piece salmon avocado and four-piece grilled nigiri. The fresh salmon is good, but the fish on the nigiri is super thin. Stingy! ($16.50) I supplement lunch with a protein bar. $16.50
5:00pm – Pack up for the day, and get the train home. $13.76
6:30pm – Dinner is a homemade snack plate of cheese, tuna, radishes, and potato gems. A cocktail accompaniment of tequila, pineapple juice, and mineral water. Modern meze. 6/10.
7:30pm – I shower, listen to more of my book while working on the jigsaw puzzle, and then consume a mind-numbing amount of TikTok before bed.
Daily Total: $35.86

Day 6

8am – Payday. I always seem to get paid in the middle of the night and waking up to that notification is such a joyful feeling. I do a bit of personal finance from bed, transferring money into my offset for my mortgage, strata, savings, investment fund, and voluntary repayments. This is two-thirds of my paycheck so watching it drain immediately is deeply depressing, but necessary. 
9am – I balance being an excellent saver by also being an excellent spender, so I immediately order flowers for my mum’s birthday later in the week ($99.95). I log on and start my work day. $99.95
10am – I sneak downstairs for a latte and back to work ($6, sad face). I see a woman in my building wearing patent black ballet flats and they look so good, I immediately regret wearing my sneakers. $6
12pm – Over lunch, I do my weekly food shop, a split between Harris Farm and Woolies because I love burning money. I pick up enough to last me about one and a half weeks' worth of meals (veggies, fruit, tuna, beans, cottage cheese, chicken tenders, salad, ice cream, etc.) plus fun things (like Pepe Saya Maple Butter). I also pick up some chicken and salad and eat half that for lunch ($161.85). $161.85
5:30pm – The kneeling chair arrives! I log off for the day and start assembling the chair. I put half of it together and then abandon it in the living room (yes, I'm procrastinating).  
6:30pm - Dinner is maple roasted pumpkin with goat's cheese, and chorizo. Baby Cornetto for dessert! 
8pm – I shower and fuss around online looking at entryway tables before getting to some life admin. My aunt has very generously agreed to give me some career coaching, so I prepare for our session tomorrow by digging out my resume and doing a Myers-Briggs test. I have switched from extrovert to introvert. That feels correct. 
11pm – Bedtime.  
Daily Total: $267.39 

Day 7

8am – Breakfast is overnight apple cinnamon oats. I am new to the oats game, but I don’t think they’re meant to be this thick. Still tastes decent though. I eat them while going through my emails and starting work for the day.
12pm – Lunch is leftover chicken and salad from yesterday. Another Baby Cornetto for a sweet treat. I have my coaching session, which is more like therapy and less like mentoring than I thought it would be, in that the answers come from within you, rather than her telling me what to do. Still, I get a lot out of it and leave with a lot of steps forward, which is great.
2:30pm – Arvo slump is revived with a sugar-free V.
5pm – I log off and get changed to go to Pilates. I’m trying a new one through ClassPass, and it’s only a 15-minute walk away which we love to see.
6:30pm – Pilates was bloody hard, but so good. I’m pretty out of practice and was shamelessly puffing the entire walk home. I wash my hair, and have a leftover dinner of maple pumpkin and chorizo.
7:30pm – I put the rest of the kneeling chair together and try it out. It’ll take some getting used to, but honestly, it's pretty comfortable! My back is so straight.
8:30pm – I spend the rest of the evening on TikTok, chatting with friends, and impulse-purchasing old-school lollies (red clouds, bananas, milk bottles — the classics). $20.79
Daily Total: $20.79

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